Please select an area of interest.
Frog Wave - Thompson River
This region features some fine big water paddling such as the Thompson and the Clearwater. Numerous tributaries offer numerous creeking possibilities, including the classic Stein River. This region is perhaps one of the driest areas of Western Canada so some of the runs need to be caught before too late in the season to ensure water.
Titan -Cataract Creek
The Southern Rockies are characterized by distinct Eastern Slopes and Foothills terrain. Rivers tend to flow through sedimentary bedrock giving them a very unique and fun character. As you travel further south towards Waterton you find some of the oldest uncovered sedimentary rock in the Rocky Mountains and the character of the rivers changes accordingly. Some of these runs provide quite a contrast from the glacially fed, boulder strewn streams you find in the Central Rockies.
The paddling is excellent in this region, but be sure to catch it early. Most of it is snow pack and groundwater dependent, and runoff can be done for the season as early as June, around Calgary, and earlier as you go South. Over the last several years the snow packs have been smaller and the run-off earlier so don't miss out.
The unexplored north... Who knows what you will find. Perhaps as interesting is the large number of relatively unexplored or rarely explored rivers lying far off the beaten path. Bring some bug spray and a map.
Whatshan River - West Kootenays
The Kootenays have some of the finest whitewater I've ever had the pleasure to paddle. The Eastern Kootenays often have similar paddling to the rockies. The seasons tend to be later do to high snowpacks and big spring run-off. The diverse geology of the Kootenay range contributes directly to the diversity of rivers. Glaciers and deep canyons are common, with the Yoho, Toby, and the Spillamacheen coming to mind. The West Kootenays are just across the range, yet the paddling is totally different. Bedrock rivers, granite and other igneous rivers, waterfalls, slides, warm(ish) water, cedar forests, and big lakes make up the defining characteristics of the West Kootenays. Neither region is to be missed!
The Icefields Parkway South of Jasper - Photo by Mark BassoCentered more or less around Jasper, Alberta, this area features some of the finest difficult-extreme rivers anywhere, and there are more than a few. The Columbia Icefields is 45 minutes south of the town of Jasper. It represents the source of rivers flowing to each ocean. You have the Athabasca drainage (the true headwaters of the Mackenzie) the Fraser Drainage, and the North Saskatchewan Drainage. These three major drainage's have countless tributaries. In the Eastern and Northern parts of the Central Rockies, you get distinct sedimentary geology, with rivers cutting through and across layers of shale, sandstone, limestone and dolomite. Often this can lead to broken ledges, falls, and deep canyons. As you head West towards Jasper, and eventually the Fraser, you start to get into a lot of harder metamorphic rocks, which tends to lead to more defined bedrock, and bigger boulder runs.
A colorful crew on the North Fork of the Dore
Probably the largest area of the kayakwest.com guidebook, Central BC cannot really be categorized. With multiple world class big river runs like the Upper Fraser, the Quesnel, and the Chilko backed up by a life times worth of creeking of all varieties Central BC could keep any boater busy for a lifetime. You will find boulders, bedrock, glaciers and everything in between. The one common characteristic of this vast area might be logs, so be sure to be cautious.
The coast is perhaps the present day Mecca for steep creeking in Western Canada. The Coastal Ranges typically feature huge snowpacks which can provide water well into the shoulder seasons, especially when combined with frequent rain. Many runs feature granite and its metamorphosed counterparts allowing for bedrock canyons, waterfalls, a little bit of everything. Certainly a major contrast to the Rockies character you find further inland. Logging is a major industry in this part of BC and wilderness and industry don't seem to be as mutually exclusive. As a result, paddlers are offered access into drainages that would otherwise be to remote. There are numerous well known runs, but certainly still some great opportunities to explore. Do to the huge snowpacks, glaciers, and rains, rivers in the Coastal ranges can reach raging torrent status from time to time. During these flood events the rivers can really change, shifting massive boulders, flushing debris away to expose bedrock, and by carving new channels. As with elsewhere in BC, watch for logs.